KNOCK OUT was supposed to be inspired from the Hollywood film PHONE BOOTH. Though its main plot is similar to PHONE BOOTH, its more akin to Bollywood's own, A WEDNESDAY.
Director Mani Shankar tries to recreate the magic of A WEDNESDAY, but to little avail. While A WEDNESDAY aroused patriotism, this one only instills boredom. Unlike A WEDNESDAY, the narration gets preachy which is a complete no-no and fails to make any impact.
Tony Khosla (Irrfan) is an investment banker who transfers the illegal money of politicians to the secret Swiss back accounts. He enters a phone booth to get his unscrupulous activities done without getting traced. Things take an ugly turn when he answers a call from an unknown number. On the other end of the phone is a sharp shooter, (Sanjay Dutt) who's hell-bent on redeeming Bachu (he prefers to call Tony so) of all his wrong doings. This soon becomes 'breaking news' thanks to reporter Nidhi (Kangna Ranaut). A tumultuous situation arises with the media, police, politicians, and revenue officials getting involved.
While the first half is tolerable, the second half becomes a test of your patience. The interactions between the sharp shooter and Tony get banal. With the entire plot set primarily between these individuals you at least expect the dialogues to be engaging. But they fall flat. Moreover, even though there isn't a single song in the film, it still isn't enthralling.
The absurdities keep on increasing as the film progresses. You have a swanky PCO booth with a bulletproof bottom pane, a TV reporter who wears glamourous clothes and high heel stilettos on field and revenue officers announcing money getting credited to Indian treasuries on roads. Even a coffee shop which is just a few metres away from the phone booth is operational as if nothing has happened. Then, in the climax, Mr. Sharp Shooter says to Bachu,' Dimag aur dil mein se, dil ki sunna. Kyunki dil left mein hota hai lekin right hota hai.' It couldn't get cheesier than this.
Sanjay Dutt is the only saving grace of the film. He performs his role earnestly. Irrfan hams. However, he's hilarious when he grooves to the song Zara zara touch me. Kangna Ranaut is a complete misfit in the role of a news reporter. Her accent and dialogue delivery are appalling. Sushant Singh is decent as the competent police officer. Gulshan Grover doesn't have much to do. Filmmaker Apoorva Lakhia tries very hard to act but can't.
KNOCK OUT fails to deliver the 'punch'. Do not 'knock' on its door.